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The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, Nonkosi Mvana, urged the residents of Cape Town’s Khayelitsha community to consider adoption as another form of child protection. There are orphaned and vulnerable children in child and youth care centres who are in need of a permanent home, she said.

Mvana made this call when she outlined the key elements of the Children’s Amendment Bill during public hearings on the Bill in Khayelitsha yesterday.

Supporting the Bill during the public hearings, representatives from various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the field highlighted sections in the Bill that, in their view, need to be strengthened. They said the Bill should include reforms to simplify registration processes at early childhood development (ECD) centres, as well as strengthen financial support for these centres and conditionally registered ECD centres.

NGO representatives also called on the Bill to include 50/50 co-parenting. They called on biological fathers to be given equal parenting rights as biological mothers. They also supported the ban on child marriages. Participants also raised concerns about South African children who do not have birth certificates and so cannot benefit from government programmes. They attribute this to the long queues at Department of Home Affairs offices. They called on government to address this as it also deprives children of their basic right to education.

Representatives from the Walking Bus Project in Khayelitsha used the opportunity presented by the public hearings to raise their concerns and challenges, which included their need for protection from the South African Police Service and the lack of support from community members and from the municipality.

An overwhelming number of participants supported the Bill, while a few rejected it. The committee conducts hearings today in Beaufort West in the Central Karoo District Municipality.